Netflix's The Gray Man Movie Review - A zooming spy thriller without the brakes

Stylish, relentless, and surprisingly fun, The Gray Man is the Russo Brothers' ode to spy thrillers for the ADHD crowd.

Ryan Gosling smolders as the mystery man only known as Sierra Six, the person the CIA sends in to do the dirty work they can't be seen doing. In a world of black and white, Six operates within the gray (hence the movie's title), giving him carte blanche to kill with no questions asked. That is, before he comes across a drive containing damning evidence against his handlers, which forces him to go on the run. What follows is a globe-trotting thrill ride full of double dealings, double crosses, and a trainload of bullets.

Gosling carries this entire film as the man of few words but plenty ways to gut a human being in ten different places. Feels similar to Matt Damon's Jason Bourne in this regard but a sliver more subdued. Even then, every time ass needs to be kicked on screen he comes off believable without feeling forced.

Standing as a twisted mirror image to Six is Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen, a remorseless sociopath hired off-the-books to eliminate Six no matter the cost. Evans clearly enjoys playing a sleazy mercenary with a sick sense of humor, and every time Lloyd is on the screen is equal parts funny and horrifying. Just like an effective heel in pro wrestling, Evans' Lloyd is the kind of character you tune in to see lose. Badly.

The movie definitely feels like Anthony and Joe Russo unshackled by Disney and Marvel. The action is more kinetic than you're used to, with extensive use of drone shots that fly through action scenes and fast-paced gunfights that leave you breathless. The climactic chase scene through Vienna in particular is a fun mess of bullet casings, broken windows, and a runaway tram that had me gripping the edge of my sofa the entire time.

The Gray Man also feels like a Russo Brothers movie, for good or ill. Quippy dialogue feels forced and often unfunny (though par for the course for screenwriters Markus and McFeely, who also wrote Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame), and the non-stop action dulls you to the fact that the only thing keeping this together is Gosling and Evans' chemistry and eventual face off. Sequelitis is also a problem, with an anti-climactic ending taking the wind out of the movie's altogether breakneck pace, obviously contrived to set up an eventual sequel.

But it's not often that a spy thriller gets the big blockbuster treatment. The Gray Man is proof that it just takes the right hands to turn a tired trope into something fresh and exciting, something the Russos' Midas touch does with aplomb.

The Gray Man is now streaming on Netflix.

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